Road Test: 2017 Kia Cadenza Limited

Kia continues to break barriers with higher levels of luxury, technology and convenience than ever before with the new Cadenza. It comes wrapped in a beautiful, bold design and boasts a stronger body structure and powertrain enhancements for a more engaging driving experience.

We spent a week with one in order to experience just how the Cadenza’s team overvalued this sedan. Trim levels include Premium, Technology, and Limited.

Ride and Handling
Cadenza rides like a luxury sedan should: smoothly, with confidence and serenity. Fifty percent of the body is made of high-strength steel, which contributes to the solid feeling that’s sensed the minute the driver gets behind the wheel.

Amplitude Selective Damping (ASD) shock absorbers maximize ride comfort without sacrificing stability, while Hydraulic Rebound Stopper (HRS) works to provide a smoother ride over harsh or broken surfaces. The ride is comfortable where it needs to be while still being engaging and fun to drive. Kia’s suspension engineers did a marvelous job.

Stylish 19″ alloys are standard and lend themselves to better handling.

Four corners of disc brakes feel supremely strong and smooth. They bite early and provide a reassuring feeling.

An electronic parking brake with auto-hold makes sore right feet from waiting at traffic lights a thing of the past. In our testing, the auto-hold engages once the vehicle comes to a stop and releases the second the accelerator pedal is depressed.

Powertrain and Fuel Economy
Cadenza is powered by a 3.3L direct-injected gas engine mated to an 8-speed automatic. Response and power delivery to the front wheels is excellent, with Sport mode livening things up quite a bit.

Around town, the transmission is silky smooth and refined. Pull onto a highway ramp and accelerate, and the 290 horsepower and 253 lb-ft of torque make themselves known. Acceleration and passing are strong thanks to the V6 engine.

During our typical drive week of local and highway mixed driving, fuel economy averages in at 24.3 mpg. EPA rates it at 20 mpg city, 28 mpg highway, and 23 mpg combined.

Cadenza is whisper quiet, with thick laminated front door glass and an acoustic windshield. With wind, road and engine noise muted, talking to passengers inside or over Bluetooth is so much easier.

LED bi-function projection headlights work very well. Auto high beams are standard on Technology and Limited trims.

The amber LED light piping design around the headlights looks elegant and eye-catching, as do the rear LED taillights. “Ice cube” foglight looks very unique.

Interior Fit and Finish
Materials throughout the cabin are soft-touch, high quality, look and feel well-assembled. Stitching and leather cover nearly every surface while a suede material is wrapped around the pillars and headliner. The interior couldn’t get any more plush.

Kia treats Cadenza occupants like royalty with a 14-way power drivers seat and 10-way power passenger seat. The seats are incredibly comfortable and look beautiful too with a quilted diamond pattern covering the bolsters. The seats feature multi-level heating and cooling. The driver’s seat also has a power thigh extension, unexpected and useful.

The steering wheel is power adjustable and heated, quickly warming up on cool mornings.

Memory settings for the driver include seat position, mirrors, and the steering column. The split-opening center armrest needs additional padding

The back seat is incredibly roomy and equally as comfortable as the front, with heated outboard seats. Door-mounted roll-up window shades and a power rear window sunshade help block sunlight. The rear sunshade retracts automatically when the shifter is put in reverse.

The Smart Power Trunk automatically opens, hands-free, when standing behind it for a few seconds. It also closes at the touch of a button on the inside of the trunk lid. Cargo room measures a cavernous 16 cubic feet.

The A-pillars are relatively thin and visibility all around is good. Visors extend and cover the length of the front side window glass. The side mirrors are power folding.

The Surround View Monitor projects a birds-eye view of the Cadenza to make any parking situation a cinch. Parking sensors in the rear bumper help as well.

Gauges and Controls

Cadenza is loaded with features, and they’re all intuitively and logically placed and labeled. The touchscreen, knob and button interface is excellent.

Head-up display works very well, displaying a notification of vehicles in the Cadenza’s blind spot along with speed and cruise info.

The 8″ UVO 3 infotainment system is crisp and responds quickly. Apple CarPlay works perfectly, and Android Auto is also available.

The Harmon Kardon 630-watt, 12-speaker sound system with ClariFi sound enhancing turns the Cadenza into a concert hall on wheels.  Several USB and 12V ports throughout the cabin meet modern-day charging needs.

Bluetooth call quality was very good thanks to the quiet cabin.

USB, AUX, HD and SiriusXM radio, and Bluetooth streaming inputs provide endless entertainment.

Technology trim levels and above gain standard auto emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, blind spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert. We were surprised that lane-keep assist was missing.

The adaptive cruise works smoothly and accelerates briskly, and didn’t brake too aggressively during rush hour traffic. It was refined and a good aid during daily commuting.

Crash Test Results
The 2017 Kia Cadenza earning the coveted Top Safety Pick+ award from the IIHS. NHTSA has not yet rated Cadenza.

Summary Scorecard (1-10)
Ride and Handling 9
Braking 10
Powertrain and Fuel Economy 10
Noise 10
Headlights 10
Interior Fit and Finish 10
Seating 10
Visibility 10
Gauges and Controls 10
Infotainment 10
Crash-Avoidance 9
Total Score 98
Make: Kia
Model: Cadenza
Trim Level: Limited
Engine: 3.3L V6
Transmission: 8-Speed Automatic
Options: None
Base Price: $44,390
As-Tested Price: $45,290




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